A mountain lion kitten was killed Sunday evening at the South Dakota Rapid City Regional Airport. The young 60 pound male was seen without his mother* on airport property and was beginning to wander near the runway. Officers from SD Game, Fish & Parks reportedly attempted to scare the kitten away over the course of an hour, but were unsuccessful. Due to their concerns for a possible airplane-roadkill situation, the officers deemed it best to kill the cat. There have not been any reported sightings of the mother nor any other kittens.
*According to cougar biologists Barnhurst and Lindzey, a mother lion may be away from her kittens about a third of the time while off hunting and defending her territory……Mountain Lion Foudation
(S.D.)-Mountain Lion Not Welcome Airport Visitor
By: Chris Fankhauser Posted at: 09/30/2010 10:39 AM
(Rapid City)-Most airlines will do what they can to accommodate passengers, unless the potential passenger is a 60 pound mountain lion. On Sunday evening, a 1-year-old male lion was killed near Rapid City Regional Airport after South Dakota Game Fish and Parks officials attempted to divert it from the runway area.
An employee on a regular patrol noticed the lion, and officials did their best to direct the animal away from the facilities. After about an hour of unsuccessful attempts to get the lion to vacate the premises, the animal was put down.
Officials were concerned that if the lion was able to enter the runway area of the airport, and any planes were taking off or landing, it could have entered the path of any planes. Although planes are much bigger than mountain lions, there can still be severe damage incurred if the two make contact. There could also be injuries to passengers on the plane.
The animal’s carcass will be shipped to South Dakota State University for further study. Airport officials are examining ways to prevent any wildlife from entering the runway area, including plans for a fence with barbed wire along the top and more regular patrols of the area.